Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Paralyzed Port Tampa man dies eight months after Iowa shooting


A family's struggle to care for a young adult paralyzed by a stray bullet ended last week when Brandyn Preston died in his sleep.

While his family mourned, Preston's death prompted investigators to upgrade his case to a homicide.

Preston had been paralyzed since May. He was visiting relatives in Iowa when a bullet fired into the crowd at a high school graduation party struck the back of his neck. An autopsy may give Iowa investigators more clues since the bullet, which had been left in Preston's spine, can now be retrieved for testing.

"We're always going to try and collect the evidence that's available and use it to further the investigation," Fort Dodge Police chief Tim Carmody said.

Preston had hung on with the help of a ventilator for the past eight months and had been eating and sleeping normally, making his passing unexpected.

"Everybody's surprised but we're thankful he's not suffering anymore," his mother and full-time caretaker Kim Wood said.

Preston grew up with his mother and stepfather and attended East Bay and Robinson high schools, as well as Waynesville High School in Missouri where he was a basketball standout.

The Times published stories about the financial and physical difficulties his family faced caring for him after the shooting.

Early last year, he left his Port Tampa home for Iowa with the blessing of his mom and stepfather to learn more about his biological father's family. There, he connected with several family members, and he was attending a graduation party for a newfound cousin when he was shot.

After spending months in an Iowa hospital, Preston was moved to a Nebraska rehabilitation center before being flown back home in August.

His care was expensive, and a fundraising drive the family launched raised about $4,000.

But the money ran out quickly. Preston's parents had hoped military benefits for his stepfather, Donovan Wood, an Iraq War Bronze Star recipient, would pay for a home nurse. But he is retired and working in the private sector, which limits his benefits.

Kim Wood quit her job to take care of her son full time, aided in part through Medicaid. Late last year, Preston spent weeks in a South Tampa hospital for a blood clot and bed sores.

Lately, the family said Preston, who could only crane his neck, appeared to be faring better. Although he could only whisper, he was on the phone with friends until 9 p.m. He ate normally, putting down everything from Sonic and Burger King fast food to chicken wings.

"Whatever he asked for, we would give it to him," Kim Wood said.

He was frustrated about his condition, his mother said, and sometimes lashed out verbally at family members.

A day before he died, he had told his mother he wanted to apologize for how he had treated some of his siblings.

On the morning of Jan. 22, she thought he was sleeping until she felt his rigid jaw. He had died sometime during the night, she said.

"It was a privilege for me to serve my son for seven months," Kim Wood said. "I would do it again in a heartbeat."

The family now hopes for closure in Preston's case, which is being investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa State Patrol, the Webster County Sheriff's Office and Fort Dodge police.

The Webster County Crime Stoppers posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter. Crime Stoppers can be reached at (515) 573-1444 or

Fort Dodge Detective Steve Hanson, (515) 573-1426, and state Agent Jim Thiele, (515) 972-4100, are leading the case.

Preston is survived by his mother, stepfather, biological father and more than six siblings, Kim Wood said.

A viewing will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes in South Tampa, 3328 S Dale Mabry Highway. A memorial service will immediately follow. Both events are open to the public.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or

.To help

Financial donations

Brandyn Preston's family is seeking help with funeral expenses. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for financial donations, which can be made through a Bank of America account entitled "DDA Team Brandyn." The account number is 229024104103.

. To help

Hed goes here

Brandyn Preston's family is seeking help with funeral expenses. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for financial donations, which can be made through a Bank of America account entitled "DDA Team Brandyn." The account number is 229024104103.

Paralyzed Port Tampa man dies eight months after Iowa shooting 01/28/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 28, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. East Tampa store owner who survived one shooting is targeted again with fatal results


    TAMPA — In the 2011 video, Mahamoud Ibrahim stands behind the counter of his tiny East Tampa convenience store, his back to the surveillance camera meant to discourage thieves.

    A memorial has sprouted in front of the 29th Street Store in East Tampa, where a robber fatally shot owner Mohamoud Ibrahim on July 16. Security experts say small mom-and-pop stores in high crime areas are easy targets for robberies and typically don't have the budgets for extra security measures. [TONY MARRERO/Times Staff]
  2. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to sent voter education videos


    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  3. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance


    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
  4. Spicer resigns as White House press secretary


    WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer is resigning his position, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.

    In this May 9, 2017, file photo, White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington.  White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has resigned over hiring of new communications aide.   [AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File]
  5. William March: Sharp divide on health care's next step for Kathy Castor and Dennis Ross


    ACA repeal fail: Castor happy, Ross furious

    U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has been one of the strongest backers of the Affordable Care Act.  [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]